In 1944 the United States was involved with World War II. The US armies were charged with the duty of holding the line just outside of Belgium. Because the war had taken its toll, the US army along that front was depleted and spread thin.
Seeing their chance the German powers concentrated their forces on that point and charged forward into it. The American forces, as lean as they were, fought with great valor and valiantly withstood much of what was thrown at them.
It was to these soldiers that the 3rd army, under the leadership of General George S. Patton, came to the rescue. Patton and his men barreled through weather and opposition on their cavalry of tanks. The arrival of this company brought relief to those haggard soldiers, and basically broke the back of the Germans’ last offensive.
The Bible describes the Christian life as a war. We combat our flesh in order to subdue it unto righteousness. Romans 8 says that we struggle against the powers, principalities, and rulers of the air. As Christians, we are in the trenches of a heavy battle, a constant conflict.
And constant conflict can take its toll. As with any soldier in the midst of combat, we can become wearied by our warfare. We can be tempted to give up. We may want to surrender so we will not have to fight any longer. On the other hand we may know that surrender is not an option. Perhaps we just need some encouragement to keep fighting. Maybe just a glimpse of the end.
Here in our passage we have just such a glimpse. To strengthens his wearied warriors God gives the vision of King Jesus’ victorious arrival. In this vision see that we do have a Patton. Our Mighty Messiah will arrive to claim his victory once and for all.
But how do you know Christ will be victorious? The battle hasn’t even started! We can know because this passage communicates details that show he cannot be beaten. We can know by virtue of Christ’s names, His glory, and his power.
I. His descriptive names
In this passage we find that Jesus goes by four names. And you need to remember that in the Bible names are descriptive of things. Jesus is being described by these names. The first name we come across is in verse 11. He is called “Faithful and True”
In other words, Jesus is the one who is worthy of all of our confidence. Remember God’s promise. From the very beginning of Scripture God promised his people deliverance. He would crush the head of the serpent. Throughout the Bible we read how God has, time and again, delivered them. They were rescued from Egypt. They were delivered from foreign powers. We are rescued from death in the death and resurrection of Jesus. And we have here the assurance that He will be true to his promise to the very end.
He is not going to fail us. He cannot fail us. In the last and final battle we will be delivered because He is Faithful and True.
In verse 12 we find another name. Well, we don’t find the name actually. It says that he has a name that “nobody knows but him.”
I just got done saying that names in the Bible reveal something about a person. How is this descriptive of Jesus? How can we know, if they don’t tell us? That’s exactly the point. What is being revealed is that God is beyond our finite capacity. Ed Vallowe, a Bible commentator, says this with regard to this verse: “Since God is divine it would seem only natural that some aspects of his nature are incomprehensible to our finite minds.”
In a way this is saying that there is no one greater than Jesus. An admiral in the Navy has access to all the files and information of those under him. He can go and find out anyone’s name and background at will. But a low ranking sailor cannot do the same to the admiral. The admiral has all authority and power.
Jesus is that one with all authority and power because he has access to information that is not available to others. He is assured the victory.
In verse 13 we see that Jesus is also called “The Word of God.” You may remember that John uses this description of Jesus in the beginning of his gospel. “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made through him, and without him nothing has been made.” It’s a description of Christ’s divinity. It is no ordinary man who rides upon this horse. It is God who comes riding into battle. Who then can stand?
Lastly, verse 16 gives us the summation. His name is “King of kings, and Lord of Lords.” In other words, all must surrender to him. Even the most powerful authorities on earth are subject to him.
So we are not presented with one who simply has a fighting chance. In the names of Jesus we are presented with one who cannot be stopped.
And that is good news to us, because it often seems like it will never end. When we are caught in those times of weariness we don’t see the end of the line.
Perhaps its just that we are struggling with temptation. For the Christian temptation can be a double edged sword. For we not only struggle not to sin, but we also struggle when we fall into temptation.
Think about how the devil turns on us. First he fires his flaming arrows of temptation at our weakest points. Sometimes we fall right into the sin, but sometimes we try to resist. We wrestle with all our might, even to the point of agonizing. But still, God allows us to fall into that sin.
But that’s where Satan really digs his claws into us. Almost kicking us while we are down. After we have committed the sin, he turns on us and starts pressing lies upon us. He makes us question God’s love for us. He says, “What kind of Christian are you? How can God ever forgive you, if you keep acting like this? You knew that was wrong.”
So Satan can dog us almost continually. And this is why you need to know that Christ will deliver. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, a finish line to your fight. One day you will lay down the gloves.
God seeks to strengthen his soldiers for battle by showing us Christ’s names, he also strengthens us by showing us Christ’s…
II. His majestic glory
The passage describes the physical person of Jesus. And the imagery presents you with one who is a victor.
You read in verse 1 that he rides a white horse. He doesn’t ride a donkey. There was a time when he came riding into Jerusalem on a colt, lowly and humble. But here he is on a horse, a mighty creature.
Verse 12 says He has eyes that are like blazing fire. He is one who is ready to consume because of his indignation.
And in the same verse it says he wears on his head, not one crown, but many crowns. Verse 13 says he wears a robed sopped with blood. That’s an allusion to Isaiah 63. Listen to these verses,
Isa 63:1-3 Who is this who comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah, he who is splendid in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength? "It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save." (2) Why is your apparel red, and your garments like his who treads in the winepress? (3) "I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel.
This is a king who has slaughtered his enemies. And here he comes again to do the same. He is not satisfied, but filled with vengeance.
But he is described as one who is not alone. Behind him come the armies of heaven, and they are all riding on horses. Whether these are angels or the saints, or both, we don’t know for sure. But we do know that that they are a great and mighty multitude. Its not just one army, it is a plurality of armies. And they are all riding on horses. In a war, very few would be mounted on horses. A cavalry would make up only a small portion of an army. But here all God’s host come riding upon horses.
This is a picture of a glorious king. A warrior who cannot be moved. One to whom the weary can look.
During the Civil War there was a General nick-named “Stonewall” Jackson. Jackson came to have this name during a battle in 1861. The confederate forces were hard pressed. Brigadier General Barnard B. Bee, CSA, was desperately trying to rally his troops to withstand the Federal attack. As he was trying to do so he looked across the battle field and saw his West point friend Jackson steadfastly holding ground against their enemy. Bee shouted to his troops, "Look, men, there is Jackson standing like a stone wall! Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer!"
The men rallied around Jackson and by doing so they were able to stay off their opponents.
We have presented before us one who is like that. The majestic glory of Christ shows him to be a stonewall. If we are going to remain steadfast in the fight, we must gather ourselves around him. Of course I am speaking metaphorically. We rally ourselves around him by setting our thoughts on Him. We look to the future and this presentation of Jesus Christ, and we set our hope in him.
The certainty of Jesus’ victory is revealed in his descriptive names and his majestic glory. And it is also revealed in…
III. His remarkable power
His power is remarkable because he is able to strike down the nations with his sword. No one else is involved in this battle. The host of heaven, riding on the horses, do not do lift a finger. He alone subdues his enemies.
And it is even more remarkable when we realize that his sword is his word. That’s what it means when it says that a sword comes out of his mouth. It is symbolic of his voice.
If I might quote from Ed Vallowe again. He reminds us of what happened on the night that Jesus was betrayed. Vallowe says, “When Judas led the soldiers to arrest Jesus, Jesus simply spoke—and his enemies fell to the ground. The power of the Word is irresistible. His Word is like a sword that cuts, smites, slays, and destroys.”
In J.R. Tolkein’s book “The Lord of the Rings” describes this event quite graphically. Those of you who have read the book or seen the movie will know exactly what I mean. Toward the end of the book the enemy forces organize a great war. All sorts of beasts and gargoyles march out en mass against the city. Like an army of ants smothering a mound of sugar the creatures converge on the city. They have one goal in mind: destroy the city and every person living within it.
As they wage that war and the guardians of righteousness begin to deteriorate. Wearied and overwhelmed by the immensity of their opposition, their defenses collapse. Their enemies move in to squelch them once and for all, and it looks as if all hope is lost.
But in that darkest moment, out of the far reaches of the horizon Gandalf comes galloping on his horse towards the city. Dressed in pure white and riding on a white horse, this man single handedly annihilates the hostile throng. The scene is virtually fanciful in its unfolding. This one man conquers the masses with a single, magical wave of his staff.
It is a depiction of Christ’s arrival. On the day of the final battle Christ shall come riding on his horse. In a single moment He shall vanquish all his enemies. Not a single opponent will be able to withstand the power of his voice.
Christ’s fury is so fierce that it is compared with that of a winepress. I read to you already from Isaiah 63, but remember what a wine press was. When the grapes were harvested, they would be placed in a large vat. Then the servants would remove their shoes and stop upon the grapes to retrieve the juices.
God will do the same to his enemies. He will not relent nor have any mercy. He will relieve his people by utterly ravaging his enemies.
Right now I am reading a book about Mt Vesuvius, the volcano that erupted in 79 AD. In that book it describes how molten lava builds up in chambers beneath the earth’s crust. The pressure continues to mount over time until it cannot be contained any longer. When the pressure was released a furry of ash, molten lava and debris were cast into the atmosphere. Grey ash rushed through the atmosphere at hundreds of miles per hour and suffocated the town of Pompeii, virtually freezing the town in its tracks.
While this world continues unwittingly along (like those unwitting people living around that volcano), Jesus Christ’s anger is building. One day the Lord Jesus will return. Like Vesuvius he will unleash his anger. Those who are his enemies will be destroyed, and we who are his people shall be relieved. No more will the devil’s temptations afflict us, and no more will man oppose us.
Yet until that day we are to continue in the battle. We are to persevere in the good fight of faith. Yet while we fight, we must not take our eyes of the coming day. For the end is a source of strength to us. Christ, our mighty Messiah, is our promise of victory. And the promise of final victory is the hope of the church militant.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.